Convicted of Crimes of Moral Turpitude
Federal immigration authorities and lawmakers take moral character very seriously when determining what foreign nationals can lawfully enter and remain in the United States. For this reason, the law allows for the deportation of individuals who commit acts that are not consistent with honesty, justice, morality, and the standards of society. In the criminal context, the law permits deportation when a foreign national is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).
The offenses considered to be crimes of moral turpitude are many and, for this reason, it is common for a non-citizen criminal defendant to face serious immigration consequences due to their criminal case. A lawyer who focuses on criminal defense may often not be adequately familiar with immigration laws to realize the true risks of a conviction and may not know how to approach the defense specifically with regard to immigration consequences. Because deportation is often a worse fate than jail time, giving apt consideration to the immigration effects of a criminal conviction is critical. An experienced crimmigration attorney who fully understands how these two areas of law intersect can help defendants and their attorneys navigate a criminal case while trying to mitigate the immigration consequences.
What is a CIMT?
Federal law does not specifically define what constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude. However, courts and immigration judges have established over time a long list of offenses that are considered to be CIMTs. The following are many of the examples of CIMTs that can lead to deportation:
- Murder or attempted murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Assault with intention to commit rape, robbery, or murder
- Domestic violence offenses, including child abuse or stalking
- Rape and sexual assault
- Child pornography
- Indecency or lewdness
- Burglary with the intent to commit a CIMT in the building or home
- Aiding and abetting a CIMT
- Theft crimes and shoplifting
- Counterfeiting and forgery
- Crimes to defraud the government
- Tax evasion
- Harboring a fugitive
- Almost any offense involving fraud allegations or schemes
- Bad checks
- Money laundering
- Falsifying documents
- Conspiracy to a CIMT
Crimes involving moral turpitude must have some sort of element involving deceit, fraud, evil intent, and similar circumstances. However, it is common to be uncertain whether a particular offense would qualify as a CIMT and lead to deportation proceedings. An experienced crimmigration lawyer who has experience with immigration judges and proceedings can identify whether a particular charge qualifies as a CIMT and whether you or your client is at risk of deportation, if convicted.
Deportation Due to Conviction of a CIMT
Deportation does not automatically result from any conviction for a crime of moral turpitude by a non-citizen. Instead, the following requirements apply under federal immigration laws:
- For a single CIMT – The date of the alleged offense must be within five years of admission to the United States and the sentence for the conviction must be for one year of imprisonment or longer.
- For two different CIMTs – The offenses can happen at any time and there are not requirements for a particular sentence length. However, the two CIMTs cannot be part of a “single scheme of criminal misconduct”.
If you have legally been admitted to the U.S. and are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, you can be removed from the country through deportation proceedings. If you have not been lawfully admitted to the U.S. and are convicted of a CIMT, you can be removed based on inadmissibility.
The possibility of removal should be carefully considered when designing a criminal defense strategy. Some successful strategies can include negotiating a plea bargain for a lesser offense or without the element that involves moral turpitude. With the help of a qualified crimmigration attorney, it is possible to avoid conviction or obtain a conviction that will not result in serious immigration consequences.
Call to Consult with a Highly Skilled NJ Crimmigration Attorney
Because so many criminal offenses can be considered to be crimes involving moral turpitude, cases involving possible deportation of foreign nationals are surprisingly common. It is crucial to fully understand and appreciate the severity of deportation risks and to seek assistance from an experienced New Jersey crimmigration lawyer when necessary. Lawyer Ronald Mondello has provided valuable guidance to clients and defense attorneys alike in criminal cases involving CIMTs with the goal of preventing deportation and other severe immigration implications. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call the law firm of Ronald P. Mondello, Esq. Attorney at Law for a consultation today.